Tuesday, July 3, 2012

so small

Airplane flights give me perspective. When I look out of the window, I'm overwhelmed by the number of people that each little dot of light represents. From so far above, you can't even pick out specific cities, let alone homes, or cars, or people. Yet, imagine what each of those people is going through, right at that moment. When you look at that city, you're looking at people crying, at people laughing, at people fighting, at people singing. Some single mom is sitting down to a meal her kids, another family is rushing to get to an event on time, while yet another is chatting while packing for a vacation. So much is happening, and we can't even begin to comprehend it all.

For me, flying is always a reminder of how little control I truly have. You can't preserve a sense of control when you're flying. Someone else controls the plane, as you soar thousands of feet above the ground, at hundreds of miles per hour. At the same time, as you watch the cities pass beneath, there's a sense of being so small. I am easily overwhelmed by daily dramas or studies - yet, in my city, state, or world, my little issues don't really amount to much.

I suppose that could lead to a feeling of insignificance...but for me it doesn't. I don't feel insignificant - I feel small. The difference is slight, but important. Insignificance implies an unimportance. Being small doesn't reduce the value of my life, or the importance of my situation, rather, it means that other people are going through life too. It's a simple concept - my life is just one of many - but when I watch cities slip away beneath my plane, it really connects. When I can see the lights that represent so many lives, it feels more real.

I can't control every situation in my life, and neither can any of the nearly-7-billion other people on this earth. At some point, we have to surrender our issues to someone who can actually exercise control.

I really like this short clip by Francis Chan. (I found his book, "Crazy Love" to be very inspiring - this video was part of his accompaniment for the book.) Although, it does make my brain explode a little.

I can't control my life, and neither can anyone else. When I try to manage every issue and control every interaction, life breaks down quickly. Very quickly. Each of us is just a one in billions, and our situations often threaten overwhelm us.

Yet, when I look out of the window of an airplane, it's not hopeless, and I don't feel insignificant. Someone has it all under control - and I am very grateful it isn't me.

It's so easy to get lost inside a problem that seems so big at the time
It's like a river that’s so wide, it swallows you whole
While you sit around thinking about what you can't change, and worrying about all the wrong things
Time's flying by, moving so fast -- You better make it count 'cause you can't get it back

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand
What you've been up there searching for forever is in your hands
When you figure out love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else seem so small

Carrie Underwood - "So Small"

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